Ndola Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha has granted bail to eight (8) Croatian nationals charged with the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory.
On Tuesday morning during the first day of trial, Magistrate Makalicha granted bail of K20, 000 each to the eight suspects with two Ndola based traceable sureties.
The suspects shall surrender their passports to Zambian authorities, appear before police after two weeks and legalize their stay in Zambia as part of the bail conditions.
Magistrate Makalicha ruled that the suspects will remain remanded in custody until they meet all the bail conditions.
The case has been adjoined to 23rd January, 2023 for continued trial.
The four children in question are being kept by the social welfare department at a facility in Ndola.
Particulars of the offence are that Damir Magic aged 44 and seven others on 7th December 2022 in Ndola on the Copperbelt Province jointly and whilst acting together did attempt to traffic a child namely Beatrice Magic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
In count two, another couple namely, Subosic Zoran, a musician and Immovic Subosic, a Constitutional Court administrator, on the same date attempted to traffic a child namely Mariella Kalinde Immovic Subosic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
Ladislav Persic, a veterinary doctor and Aleksandra Persic, a dog beauty stylist on December 7, this year allegedly attempted to traffic a child namely Jona Asnate within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
Noah Kraljevic, a human rights activist and Ivona Kraljevic, a proxy woman at that country’s national theater, are also alleged to have attempted to traffic a child namely Jean Val Kraljevic.
Meanwhile, trial commenced on Thursday morning in the case in which eight (8) Croatian nationals have been charged with the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory.
Three witnesses testified in the case before Ndola Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha in a court session that lasted three hours.
The first two witnesses from Spree Guest House in Ndola described to the court how a man only identified as S.B.M booked the guest house rooms on behalf of the Croatians in December 2022.
Spree Guesthouse general manager Estelle Banda told court that after the four couples checked in it was later discovered that each had a black child in their respective room.
“They stayed at the lodge for five days and when I took them back to the airport, they each carried an African black child. We only noticed they had children on the third day when one of the house keepers found a baby aged a year or so crying,” Ms. Banda said.
Ms. Banda said the guesthouse had no idea when the children were brought into their premises.
And Ndola’s Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport Immigration deputy officer incharge Mercy Phiri narrated that on December 7, last year, she received information that they were Croatians who were planning to leave the country through the airport.
She said the couple had four suspected Congolese children which led to her department to treat it as a suspected human trafficking matter.
“After a tip off, I alerted the officers who were at the exit booth to be aware of the Croatians who had Congolese children and at 11:30 hours, I was informed that the same people were at the exit booth,” she said.
Ms Phiri said after reviewing the passports, it was discovered that the Croatians entered the country as ordinary citizens while information obtained showed that the children entered through Sakanya border.
Ms Phiri further said the accused also produced purported adoption documents which showed that the couples did not go to Congo but were instead in Zambia.
She said when asked how they adopted the children without having to travel to that country, they stated a Congolese lawyer helped them to adopt the children.
Last Tuesday, the eight suspects pleaded not guilty to the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory.
The Immigration Department last month in collaboration with police in Ndola stopped an alleged illegal adoption involving four Congolese children who were destined for Croatia.